Stead made his name as a journalist by exposing child prostitution and caused a sensation by arranging the "purchase" of a 13-year-old girl.
Now the Echo is marking the centenary of Stead's death by launching an investigation into the sexual exploitation of children in 2012 in the North-East where it claims children as young as 10 are being trapped by gangs.
It reports: "MORE than a century after the former editor of The Northern Echo, Willam Thomas Stead, revealed that children were being sold for sex on the streets of Britain, girls and boys are still being sexually exploited in North-East towns and cities.
"Organised gangs are grooming children as young as ten, before luring them into a world of drugs, violence and sex for money or gifts."
- Current Northern Echo editor Peter Barron can be seen emulating W.T. Stead by arriving arriving at work today on a horse in this video.